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Queer Parade : A Walk To Remember

By Amrita Paul

Reshma strut across the stage and announced with an emphatic glee, - I think even Rahul Gandhi should join our parade from next year, because he is also gay, no?” The audience roared with laughter while one of the organisers quietly passed on the message that Reshma be brought down from the stage immediately. The voice of the speaker at the Sainik Sammelan, happening nearby was effectively drowned by the loud cheering of the crowd, “Garv se kaho hum Gay hain.

Sara, a university student from Stockholm, was one of the first few people to arrive. Her clothes were freshly ironed and her cropped hair was neatly parted and clipped. Quite contrary to her appearance, she reminded me of Lisbeth Slander, the troubled yet fierce protagonist of Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl with a dragon tattoo’. As people donned scarves, masks and multi coloured wings, Sara stood in one corner, observing and clicking pictures from time to time.

Street children ran around snatching flags, masks and balloons, mostly from those who weren’t particularly assertive.

Delhi Queer Pride Parade was like an over populated sorority huddled together for a unanimous cause. Attendees rolled cigarettes, taking long drags whilst posing for the media, and answering questions about their purpose behind attending the parade. “I think it is very important for us to accept ourselves and each other to be able to stand together and fight against this discrimination.” said an amicable young fellow. Quirky enough, his badge was pinned on the flap of his zipper.

When the walk started, Donna, a feisty middle aged American woman moved around, energetically carrying a ‘happy and gay’ placard. All her conversations began with, “I partied till four in the morning but I had to come for this.” A journalist had perhaps asked her about a certain draconian section of the Indian Penal Code when she replied back in a fervid countenance, “Oh Never mind 377, I just feel sorry that more foreigners have turned up in support of this event when it should have been the other way round.

As the parade moved on, policemen stood at the corner of each crossing with walkie-talkies, bemused, perhaps wondering what they were doing there in the first place. Photographers slammed into each other trying to take pictures, while members of the community danced away to glory. Ruchi stood in her white robe with a sacred disposition. Her prosthetic bald head and quaint kolhapuri chappals complimented her temperament perfectly. She glided alongside the parade banner, stopping occasionally only to ‘namaste’ as Cannons and Nikons clicked on, furiously. A media van zoomed ahead, capturing the event as it happened.

As the road curved towards Jantar Mantar, the cheering grew louder. Few had grown a little weary and had resigned to the side of the road. The rest marched on, shouting slogans. I met Sara again, who was at the verge of crying, - I am a little emotional but people here are so brave.

As soon as we had set eyes on each other, we knew we were meant to be.” - said Arvind, a bespectacled, burly man. The turquoise parade banner fluttered behind him, on the stage. “And I want all of you to come for our wedding, whenever it happens. Even if my parents don’t come, you guys need to be there. It would mean a lot to us.

“We don’t need laws to govern our body. We don’t need to be told whom to love, because love, even as a fleeting emotion unites souls and triumphs even in the silent tremors of darkness.” – One of the demonstrators summed up.

It is close to sunset and the venue has shifted near India Gate. Participants sat together on a rainbow coloured banner, sharing a modest lunch. Their smiles were a little more self assured than before, perhaps with the idea that even when you think you are alone, you are not really alone. 

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Amrita Paul
I write. I read. I eat. I sleep (a lot ). Oh yes, Chick flicks make me cry and I love dogs. Some say I am a feminist, I say - "Is it necessary to define every ounce of passion arising from an individual?" I think not. Anyway that is me :)


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